Beginner's Heart

via creative commons

via creative commons

‘Whales Weep Not!’, by D. H. Lawrence is amazing. I like Lawrence’s poetry — many don’t. But who knew he did a whale poem? And that it would so beautifully illustrate all we have in common with all the life around us.

We know whales are sentient, of course. But this poem, written with Lawrence’s famous (notorious?) sensuality, reminds us that love is part of sentience. And thinking of love makes it difficult to excuse whaling.

I love the ocean, in part because it’s a completely different world. The beings beneath its silvery surface go about their lives with little visible to me, up here on the land-locked prairie. But as always, a piece of art ~ a poem ~ can be a window. Or even a kind of submarine, allowing me to ‘see’ whale love. Allowing me to see my own fist love longlimbed swimmer in the images the poem draws. It’s what art does best, open us up. Crack holes so the light gets in…

That’s pretty amazing, I’d say.  Love between sentient beings just isn’t all that different, the poem says. And it offers a lovely, gentle nudge to be more mindful of the web that connects us all.

via flickr

via flickr

I have heart family. Brothers who have grown into their places, sisters who do not need similar faces to be part of my heart’s family. Once I even had almost-mothers, and almost-aunts, each now lost to time and distance.

This weekend, one of my brothers is here to visit his own father (no kin – real or otherwise – to me). His father is elderly, and fragile. Although sometimes I wonder if that ‘Greatest Generation’ isn’t stronger than all their children!

My brother’s unexpected visit reminds me that I have lost touch w/ other friends, from other times: friends I now have nothing in common with. Men & women who were once almost as dear to me as my family now – real & otherwise. 🙁

my heart nieces (the author's)

my heart nieces

Why do some friendships last lifetimes? What feeds that kind of love, where other loves wither & fall away from us? Is it like values? Shared experiences? Random luck? My brother lives a day’s journey from me, and he & his wife had their children much later than we had ours, although all four of us adults are about the same age. Their youngest is 14 – mine is more than twice that. So yes, we both have children. But so do people I have let go of, people I have watched slip past me into a that was then time.But G’s children — his three intelligent, sensitive, amazing daughters — call me ‘Aunt.’ They email me sometimes, send me a paper draft to look at. Share their lives with me. They too are family.

When G & his beloved A & the three girls come to town, they always get in touch. A & one of the girls & I  also connect through FB. And when they come, like most families, we have traditions: a visit to our favourite museum restaurant & garden, a walk across the river bridge. I give them trinkets, sometimes. They gift me with origami cranes & frogs & boxes.

My brother & sister-in-law shares my values, sure. But so, once, did others. I suppose part of today’s relationship is that my brother & I – and our beloveds – have grown into similar values as we’ve aged. That isn’t true of many of my once-upon-a-time friends, who now espouse political positions I find heartbreaking.

via pixabay

via pixabay

So here I am, beyond grateful for what is, in some ways, random luck. Wondering – believer in magic that I am – if there is intent to the universe. If my brother & his wife – closer to me than some blood family – are ‘meant’ to be part of my life. The usual ties that bind do not tie us: we live far from each other; we have different time lines; we work in different fields. And still? We are family. But because we don’t share blood ties, I am the more grateful that we continue together. It does, indeed, seem magical.

If you’re lucky enough to have heart family, you know exactly what I mean. And I’m sure you treasure them as much as I do, knowing well what they bring to your beginner’s heart. Today? Drop a line to one of your heart family. Let them know you love them. It will be a gift to both of you.


the author's

the author’s

I read a blog post yesterday that resonated with me. It began: Sometimes I wonder why I write a blog…

Me too.

It’s not like I change lives. Or even really make a huge difference. It’s not like I have a zillion followers. I’ve spent this past month thinking about my blog. Thinking about the five years I’ve spent on it: planning, writing, revising, responding. And I have to agree w/ the man who asked the question: why do I write this blog? What’s my point? What’s THE point?

via flickr

via flickr

As a non-Christian – an animistic Unitarian Buddhist – I’m certainly out of sync w/ the majority of Beliefnet bloggers (& readers). Initially, when my old friend & colleague recruited me, I was not only glad to have a home (still am!): I was also glad to be a minority voice, someone to counteract the bloggers on the site who called for extremist (to me) reactions to various groups & actions. And while this still applies, it’s no longer enough.

Besides ~ I wonder if anyone who disagrees with me would bother to read me. I’m never been more than a very quiet voice in the mainstream wilderness. The one time I swore, I was reprimanded (rightly so: my grandmother used to say that profanity showed a limited imagination!). And as I watch the liberal side of politics fragment the way the conservative side already has, I’m growing tired of advocating for reason. Sometimes I too want to just rant & rail. Even though I know it’s not the path to beginner’s heart.

What do you do, gentle readers, when you feel impotent to effect change? When you feel like a solitary voice swallowed in the great booming confusion? How do you go beyond that sense of futility? Just wondering, as I sit at my desk typing…

via flickr

via flickr

I am, far too often, a judge-y shrew. Seriously: I frequently think that my advanced years, coupled w/ too much education, not to mention a boatload of books read, entitles me to offer comment to complete strangers. We won’t even go in to how often I say things to sons, nieces, nevvies, etc.

There’s a fine line, I’m figuring out, between caring deeply what happens to those I love. Or even to the world around me — a child stuck in a hot stroller, parked in the sun. A teenage girl being reprimanded insultingly in a public place by a parent who should know better. A politician who hands out racial & sexist slurs as if they were bumper stickers.

Lately — in large part, I acknowledge, because of the vitriol swirling around election year — I’ve been over the line. More often than once. For which I am heartily, deeply, apologetically sorry. But it keeps happening. (This is what happens when you let your meditation practice lapse!)

via flickr

via flickr

So I’m getting ready — yet again — to stop pretending that breathing slowly while I watch the birds cavort in this amazing spring we’re enjoying is the same as sitting. Or walking mindfully. Or even drawing. My beloved & I end up discussing (re: yelling about) the newest idiocy that masquerades as politics in today’s election arena, and I’m apoplectic again. Sheesh.

And the next thing I know? I’m not only judging some politician, but everyone who walks into my purview. NOT good beginner’s heart, I’m telling ya!

Does this happen to you? Do you find yourself upset about A, only to fly off the handle — or be less than loving/ compassionate/ open to R? Want to share what you do to unravel the snarl? In the meantime? It’s back to the chair, to sit patiently. And maybe learn some patience…

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